Montana is not the only place concerned with keeping the roads clear and safe during the winter months. Over the last year, WTI’s Cold Climate Operations and Systems program has added a number of new projects with multi-state partnerships to improve the tools, resources, and staffing available to winter maintenance agencies.
- Roadway Friction Modeling: Improving the Use of Friction Measurements in State DOTs. States often use road friction measurement devices as guidance for snow removal activities, but there are challenges with interpreting the readings from multiple sensors. The goal of this project is to conduct friction testing that will improve the understanding of the relationship between weather conditions and road friction, which in turn will help to standardize data obtained and improve the ability of state DOTs to use these devices to predict friction on roadways. This is a joint research effort with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, sponsored by the Aurora Pooled Fund Research Program.
- Ongoing Issues with Winter Weather Severity Indices. Many state DOTs use winter-focused Weather Severity Indices (WSI) (aka Severe Weather Indices (SWI) or Storm Severity Indices (SSI)) to measure performance and manage winter maintenance operations. However, most WSIs lack the capability to capture more complex winter conditions, such as the impact of blowing and drifting snow. Through this project, WTI will create a working group of experts to advance the state of the practice of weather severity indices (WSI). This is a joint research effort with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and is sponsored by the Aurora Pooled Fund research program.
- Recruitment and Retention of Highway Maintenance Workers. State departments of transportation (DOTs) and local public works departments (DPW) are grappling with recruiting, retaining, and training a highly proficient roadway maintenance workforce, including winter maintenance specialists. The goal of this project is to produce a concise, comprehensive guide of innovative but practical ways for DOTs/ DPWs to recruit and retain a highly proficient, productive, versatile, and committed roadway maintenance workforce. The project is sponsored by the Clear Roads research program.
Cold Climate Program Manager Laura Fay is encouraged by the strong interest in winter maintenance collaborations: “WTI was one of the early advocates of winter maintenance peer exchanges, which really facilitated the sharing of best practices for operations. Now there are opportunities to work together on advancing new technologies and other tools that may also make it easier to monitor and manage roads in severe weather conditions.”